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The Biggest Snubs And Surprises Of The 2012 Oscar Nominations

Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
January 24, 2012 12:25 PM
44 Comments
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As you might imagine from a many-headed beast like The Academy, it’s impossible to predict exactly what the Oscars will be. Sure, precursor awards and prognosticators might make it seem like the race is done, but there’s so many unknowns, so many obscure rules and wild cards, that there will always be a fair few surprises.

And while there weren’t a ton of shocks in this morning’s announcement, there was plenty to keep the race lively; people who only a few weeks ago had seemed like locks going home empty handed, while individuals who barely figured into the awards conversation suddenly found themselves thrust into the spotlight. As such, below you’ll find a selection of the biggest snubs, and the biggest surprises, from the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards. Anything else you were expecting, and missed, or were surprised to see? Bring ‘em up in the comments section.

Snubs
Best Director - David Fincher
Sometimes there’s no better shortcut to a nomination than being seen to have unfairly lost out the previous year. While “The King’s Speech”’s Best Picture chances became increasingly likely as the Oscars got closer, most assumed that David Fincher would take home Best Director as a consolation prize. When that happened, the thought that he might at least pick up a nomination for ‘Dragon Tattoo’ started to cross many minds, and as the film performed well at the guilds, including a key nomination for Fincher from the DGA, it started to look all but certain. But Fincher never campaigned (openly disdaining the awards race), and with the film mostly shut out from key categories, he followed. The director won’t give a shit, but his fans generally do. And while we always felt it was on a knife-edge (it's less accessible than their work on "The Social Network"), some might see the omission of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score for 'Dragon Tattoo' as a surprise -- considering they won the award last year, they always had a good chance.

Best Actor - Michael Fassbender
An actor in a breakout year, who won Best Actor at Venice, Michael Fassbender’s turn in “Shame” was always going to be a hard sell, particularly once the film landed an NC-17 rating. But Fox Searchlight fought the good fight, and despite missing out on a few precursors, including the SAG, he looked on course for his first nomination. But with Gary Oldman seemingly taking precedence for the British vote, and the explicit subject matter putting off more than a few voters (we’d heard that the film had played badly at Academy screenings, but thought he might get through), he’ll have to wait for another opportunity (of which we’re sure there’ll be many), to get his tux on.

Best Actor - Leonardo DiCaprio
Speaking of Best Actor, while some, including us, predicted the absence of “J.Edgar” star Leonardo DiCaprio from the final five, plenty more were sure that his SAG nod, and movie-star status, ensured that he’d get a nomination (some had even predicted he might win, at least before the film died at the box office. But it didn’t happen, the Academy presumably deciding they’d rather wait for a better film, with less creaky old-age make-up, to honor one of their favorites again.

Best Actress - Tilda Swinton
A performance we’d pointed to almost a year ago as a potential threat, we weren’t sure if Tilda Swinton would ever quite get the momentum behind her --  “We Need To Talk About Kevin” was always tough material, in a difficult-to-watch and divisive film, and with the film being at Oscilloscope, she didn’t have the same ad firepower behind her as some of the competition. But when she started to sweep critics groups, and landed SAG and even Golden Globe nominations, we, and many others, were convinced it was going to happen. Instead, Swinton will have to wait for a Best Actress nomination to go with her “Michael Clayton” win -- the character was seemingly too unsympathetic, and the source material too wrenching, to connect with Academy members.

Best Supporting Actor - Albert Brooks
Albert Brooks had a hell of a comeback year -- absent from the limelight for years, he stormed back with a best-selling book, by being the best at Twitter, and with an against-type stunner of a supporting performance in “Drive,” one that gathered awards chatter ever since it unspooled at Cannes. He worked the circuit hard, but the violent, tricky source material never connected with his peers, and after his SAG snub, the Oscar nomination was thrown into doubt, and sadly, it never came to pass. Whether this gives him more of a chance when he returns next year in Judd Apatow’s “This Is Forty,” a film more within his traditional comfort zone, depends on the material; we’ll have to see.

Best Screenplay - Steve Zaillian
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” managed a late surge in the awards race, thanks to nominations from the WGA, the DGA and the PGA, but other than Rooney Mara (who missed out with the guild), the film failed to land any major nods. Perhaps the most surprising was writer Steve Zaillian, who, whatever the film’s flaws, did a pretty strong job at pulling off a difficult adaptation. He’s not too upset; he got a nomination in the category anyway, for “Moneyball.” But it confirms that, whatever the high-class pedigree of the project, Academy members couldn’t get past the dark, pulpy source material of ‘Dragon Tattoo’

Best Screenplay - Will Reiser
We can’t have thought that the screenplay for “50/50” was something of a lock. A well-liked film, funny, yet about serious subject matter, with a WGA nomination in the bag, and most importantly, a great real-life narrative (a first-time scribe persuaded by his movie star pal to write a screenplay based on his own experiences with cancer). But Will Reiser failed to make the cut. Was it an Academy reticence to award a Seth Rogen movie (although a nomination for “Bridesmaids” suggests they're not shy to recognize R-rated comedy)? Was it a realization from other screenwriters that the script is actually the film’s weakest link, never quite managing to be funny or moving enough? Perhaps. We’re sure Reiser will go on to bigger and better things, nevertheless.

Best Animated Feature - “The Adventures of Tintin”/”Cars 2”
Ok, we were way off here. The domestic box office failure of “Arthur Christmas” meant that the film was always a little dicey, so that was less of a shock. No one much liked “Cars 2,” but since the inception of the category a decade ago, Pixar have been nominated every single year bar 2002 and 2005, and those years were only because they hadn’t made a film. Hopefully, missing out will serve as a reminder to John Lasseter to raise his game next time he makes a cash-grab sequel. Finally, “The Adventures of Tintin” was always on a knife-edge, but its absence confirms that the animators branch are just as suspicious of performance capture as the actors. Can any film win them over?

Best Documentary - “Project Nim”
A notoriously irritating, unpredictable category like Best Documentary was always going to provide a few upsets, but most of the big ones came early, when “The Interrupters” and “Senna” were left off the longlist. And one of best-liked docs of the year still missed out at the last, as James Marsh (who won in 2009 for “Man On Wire”) was snubbed for his excellent monkey man doc “Project Nim.” Maybe it’s because he’s already won (almost no one in recent years has been nominated more than once). Or maybe it’s that the branch favors politically-driven, issue-led films for the most part. Either way, it’s another shame in a category that needs reform well beyond the half-measures that have been offered so far.  

Best Art Direction - “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
It was mixed news for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” -- while it got nominations in a number of other categories, the one that even the film’s detractors felt was the most likely fell by the wayside. Maria Djurkovic’s work on the film was easily one of the technical highlights of last year; an impossibly detailed, musty invocation of 1970s Britain. But in a tough category (we don’t necessarily begrudge any of the other nominees), something had to give, and it was Djurkovic. Sad, to be sure, but we’re sure she’s lined up all kinds of other work down the line.

Best Visual Effects - "The Tree of Life"
Obviously, "The Tree of Life" is not the kind of film that ordinarily gets a visual effects nomination, but given the mind-bending dawn of time sequence, featuring everything from CGI dinosaurs to chemical processes, most thought it stood a good chance, especially with "2001" veteran Douglas Trumbull involved -- he's getting a lifetime achievement award this year. But no dice -- instead, the rock'em'sock'em robots of "Real Steel" became an Oscar nominee. Sigh.


Surprises
Best Picture - “The Tree of Life”
Terrence Malick’s long-delayed opus was in and out of the awards conversation after its Palme D’Or win, but Guild snubs meant that most had ruled out its chances at a Best Picture nomination. But not only did Malick manage a nomination himself, as was always more likely, but the film found itself among the nine Best Picture contenders. The lesson here? Under the new system, where a film needs 5% of first-place votes to get a nomination, passion counts for a lot, and few films had more fervent supporters than this one. It’s always going to be too divisive to win, but the nod, and the fact that he’s never won before, suddenly makes Malick someone to watch in the director category.

Best Picture - “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
A less pleasant surprise, and arguably the biggest of the whole announcement, was the shock Best Picture nomination for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” We’d pegged it early on as a strong contender even to win, but then the film was screened, and it got some of the most poisonous reviews of the year. That, plus a total shut-out of most precursors, and a disappointing early box office, meant that almost everyone had written it off completely. But thanks to hard-fought, persistent campaigning by Warners and their Oscar publicists, it managed to connect with enough Academy members to make the cut. Sure, the fact that it only got one other nomination (for Max Von Sydow) suggests it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. And, sure, it might be the worst Best Picture nominee since, what, “Doctor Dolittle?” “Cleopatra?” Ever? But at this point, if Scott Rudin produced a Stephen Daldry film that involved nothing but kittens being thrown into wood chippers for 90 minutes, it’d probably still manage a nomination.

Best Actor - Demián Bichir
But as surprising as Oldman was, the nomination for Demián Bichir was even more surprising. The Mexican actor was more or less unknown when cast in the lead in Chris Weitz’s little-seen “A Better Life,” only faintly recognizable as Castro in “Che” (which even fewer people likely saw), but awards talk wouldn’t die down around the performance. Even when he got an SAG nomination, most put it down to a guild-led curio unlikely to be repeated. But there he is, among four much better-known nominees, in what we like to call ‘The Richard Jenkins Slot.’ And kudos to Summit on this one; they made sure the film was the first screener to land on Academy members’ doorsteps, and clearly the quality of the performance lingered.

Best Actor - Gary Oldman
As the philosopher Aristotle once famously said: toldja. When we made our predictions last week, even we admitted we were out on a bit of a limb predicting Oldman to be one of the nominees, but we felt that the quality of the admittedly low-key turn, as well as the oft-repeated fact that Oldman had never been nominated, would see George Smiley through to the Kodak. Which doesn’t mean that we weren’t surprised when we were right. Despite Oldman’s sometimes prickly relationship with Hollywood, his peers dug the performance (if, clearly the film less so), and few nominations this morning have been greeted with a warmer reaction. It’s also nice to see a well-deserved posthumous nomination for co-writer Bridget O’Connor, who completed the ‘Tinker Tailor’ script with real-life partner Peter Straughan not long before she passed last year.

Best Actress - Rooney Mara
While perhaps the most left-field choice -- the category had generally been seen to be six actresses fighting for five places -- most prognosticators suggested that Rooney Mara would be left out in the cold, But in fact, she snuck in, and we’d argue deservedly so -- her take on Lisbeth Salander was a far more interesting one (and far more faithful to the book) than Noomi Rapace’s, and the nod has certainly confirmed her stardom. Whether or not it comes from the Academy’s subconscious desire to make sure some pretty young ingenue is there, clearly the contrast between her performance in “The Social Network” and the almost unrecognizable Swedish hacker made an impression on the Academy.

Best Screenplay - “Margin Call” & “A Separation”
The field in original screenplay seems to get thinner every year (as much as we like “The Artist,” we’re not sure it’s a golden example of the form), so it was nice to see a well-written pair of relatively under-the-radar films perform strongly. Some of the cannier predictors (not including ourselves, it should be said), had felt that Asghar Farhani’s excellent work on “A Separation” could get in to the five, and so it did, a rare example of the best written film of the year gaining recognition. And the steady success of “Margin Call” since it premiered at Sundance a year ago climaxed with debut writer/director J.C. Chandor gaining a nod. The film had to settle for that alone, despite some vague talk of Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Spacey, or even Best Picture, but it’s cemented Chandor’s place as someone that everyone’s going to want to work with next time around.

Best Original Song - Well, Everything
The only category where we got everything wrong, in part to thanks to the Academy awarding only two songs. Which can only lead to the question: what’s the fucking point? Nominations for arguably the least good song in “The Muppets,” and for a Black Eyed Peas knock-off from an animated film that everyone’s already forgotten suggests that even those in the songwriter’s branch are struggling to get enthused about the category, let alone the millions who get up for a piss and a cigarette during the performances. We can only hope that this is the start of a gradual fading out in the category; one nomination in 2013, and none in 2014...

Best Score - John Williams Gets Two, Alberto Iglesias Gets One
John Williams is a master, we know that, and we get that. And we were fully expecting him to get one nomination, particularly as he hadn't scored a film in over three years, and already has five wins and 45 nominations. But bringing that total up to 47 with two scores which, while pleasant enough, are far from his best work, was a bit of an eyebrow raiser. Still, it was a more pleasant surprise to see Alberto Iglesias get in for his superb work on "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," particularly as he's never won.
 

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44 Comments

  • Juan | March 10, 2013 5:56 PMReply

    For all the people that says that Glenn Close didn´t deserved her sixth Oscar nomination:
    Look at Glenn´s past performances, you will see that she is great, but also you will see that Albert is the most subtle role of her career, but more important, she BECOMES Albert, and that's what acting is all about. Glenn didn´t won, because she didn´t deserved to win that year, but she was nominated for a reason, she did an amazing and challenging performance.

  • Laura Wheelwright | February 10, 2012 12:01 AMReply

    The fact that We Need to Talk About Kevin got zero nominations is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The Academy must be crazy. Tilda Swinton deserves to win Best actress, Ezra Miller should be in the running for Best Supporting Actor, and the screenplay, direction and film itself should all be in the running for an award. Since when is dark material and beautiful, heartbreaking performances a bad thing?

  • Mabs | January 29, 2012 4:54 PMReply

    Tree of life is a joke of a nomination. How anyone can connect with a pretenious and obsolite film is beyond me. Is that what the oscar's stand for? Anything pretenious with no hert or emotion gets our approval? Fassbender, Brooks, Hardy (Warrior) and Swindon missing out is a disgrace. The SAG awards are just as bad. Though this year seems like it will be okay (other then that little rant lol). Hopefully The Artist wins best picture and director but non of the acting accolades. Also Gary Oldman was amazing in TTSS but that movie wasn't saved performace! It was terrible film!

  • Graham O'Riordan | January 27, 2012 5:58 AMReply

    Just saw Shame last night. I don't think it was good enough to be best picture. I still think its a disgrace Michael Fassbender didn't get nominated, a complete joke. He gave one of the best performances I've seen in years, a diffucult role played to perfection. And George Clooney got nominted?? He is so overrated, I put him up there with Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise, got to the top because he looks good.

  • ATLEAST | January 26, 2012 5:48 AMReply

    At least one thing is "just" I believe - Girl With The Dragon Tattoo not getting much recognition. It may have been a good film, but it's an insult to foreign cinema that the remake was made SO soon after the first one - especially since the first was very successful anyway! Fincher is meant to be a dark horse, making daring and interesting choices - instead he does a dull (not the film, the choice in making it) unnecessary remake. He knows better.

  • Oscarssnubs | January 25, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    Drive, Deathly Hallows Part II snubs are unnaceptable.

  • SHAMEONYOUACADEMY | January 25, 2012 11:14 AMReply

    We need to Talk about Kevin, Shame, even Drive - all brilliant and daring scripts, direction and cinematography. The Academy prides themselves with choosing the "greatest cinematic achievements". Then why did they nominate blockbusters instead of films by directors who actually attempted something different and interesting (and which all received huge critical success anyway)? I don't understand why "content" (i.e. dark subject matter) should make a difference? Why do they keep praising the safe fuzzy choices instead of filmmakers who are actually trying to be artists?? It should be about quality of work. And auteurs and incredibly talented actors were dismissed this year (and most years). Its absolutely shocking that Swinton wasn't nominated (and Mara was - proof that they always need a "young" actress to fill some "void') nor Fassbender who's roles this year were lightyears more challenging than the other's that got nominated. The Academy doesn't care about cinematic achievement - if they did, they would have given Scorcese an award long before they did or they wouldn't have given Witherspoon one over Huffman (who was playing a man pretending to be a woman!). Actually perhaps its not about being too afraid to pick "dark" choices, maybe it's just down to their lack of imagination.
    Oh sorry, wait I'm being unfair, they're right, we should be praising a role that had a character shit in a sink for comedy effect (funny, but oscar worthy seriously? SERIOUSLY?).

  • Laura Wheelwright | February 10, 2012 12:38 AM

    I completely agree with you, this absolutely absurd idea that 'dark' content doesn't get a run because...I don't actually know why. we need to talk about kevin, drive and shame are all incredibly beautiful and unforgettable stories. get a clue academy, and get some balls.

  • Huffy | January 25, 2012 9:21 AMReply

    Shannon not getting nominated was a bigger snub than Fassbender IMO. Best performance of the year hands down.

  • joe | January 25, 2012 3:28 AMReply

    it's the worst list.Tilda Swinton, Albert Brooks. best Screenplay - Steve Zaillian
    “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,best original 50/50 . Project Nim (documentary ) are out . it’s silly ides of march is nominated for screenplay? (Because of Clooney?) pitt is producer of moneyball ,so where is Johnny Depp for hugo’s producer .his name and company are as producer in list and movie’s website.

  • Taylor C. | January 25, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    uh hello... Melacholia? Kirsten Dunst?

  • Nik Grape | January 25, 2012 1:14 PM

    I seriously don't get the praise for that role and the movie was just good at best. Just an opinion but a nomination for Dunst would of made my head spin.

  • Gaspar Marino | January 24, 2012 9:58 PMReply

    Tilda Swinton...Albert Brooks -- Michael Fassbender -- Carey Mulligan -- Leonardo Di Caprio -- Project Nim and Buck. What a pity. To think that Melissa McCarthy gets an Oscar nomination. If it were 10 years ago, would Rosie O' Donnell be up for an Oscar? Oscar, time to get serious.

  • Daryl Hannah | January 24, 2012 9:11 PMReply

    Fassbender is a snub. To me, Ben Kingsley not getting a nomination for Hugo is a snub. Swinton is a snub, I guess.
    But Fincher? No. The guy is on autopilot, pressing his technique onto whatever crosses his desk. An Eric Roth Gump rehash? A movie about Facebook? A bestseller/dreck adaptation? All okay but give me something with some soul. He has nothing to say outside of technical wizardry.
    And Albert Brooks... I love the guy, but that wasn't that great of a performance in a year that was super strong in the best supporting category.

  • maicol | February 1, 2012 11:07 PM

    WORD.

  • jimmiescoffee | January 24, 2012 7:55 PMReply

    oscar nominations for best picture 5+ is a joke, has been since inception. i can name 10 of these nominations that are fucked in so many ways.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

  • hank | January 24, 2012 4:05 PMReply

    you mean Albert Brooks wasn't nominated? Drive didn't get a best picture nomination? Or a best director nomination? SHOCK!

  • Sean | January 24, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    I'm mad at how Michael Shannon was snubbed. That was the biggest robbery this year.

  • Abe Lincoln | January 24, 2012 2:25 PMReply

    How did Diablo Cody not get nominated and Margin Call was nominated... god that movie sucked.

  • Ashden | January 24, 2012 2:16 PMReply

    Rooney Mara over Swinton and Theron is just plain wrong.

  • ... | January 30, 2012 12:29 AM

    Aww, K, your mental incapacity is SO much cuter. It's never just the people up for noms who do the networking. Plus, Mara's nomination is likely strategic and routine on the part of the Academy. She is a pretty, young, up-and-coming actress who underwent a drastic physical transformation to fulfill her movie role. That in and of itself appeals to a majority. 99% of critics may praise Mara's performance, but there are plenty of politics at play in her being nominated for an Oscar. You're right on one thing, though: Tilda probably doesn't give a rat's ass. But then again, she doesn't play "the game," either. There's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes in the Hollywood rat race to be the best and the most. You clearly don't have an insider's perspective. Ignorant fucking twat.

  • k | January 26, 2012 1:54 PM

    LOL IMO, your delusion is kind of cute. 99% of critics disagree with you, not sorry to say.

    Have you actually seen a Rooney interview? The woman looks like a frightened rabbit -- can you actually picture her doing the kind of networking Close has been doing? No. Tilda already has an Oscar and you know what? I doubt she gives a fuck. So maybe you should follow her example.

  • BAH | January 26, 2012 1:29 PM

    Mara's performance was pretty good, I'm more upset about Glenn Close scraping through on sympathy. Tilda Swinton's performance was awesome, and imo, she would have been the one to beat after Streep.

  • IMO | January 25, 2012 2:08 AM

    Mara didn't give a fantastic performance. That's why she's getting so much shit. She gave a knock off performance of Rapace's but arguably had "more" to work with since Fincher's version was closer to the book than the Swedish version. Mara's performance was actually quite vapid. Committed, but vapid. Not surprisingly, she lacked the dimension and depth Rapace nailed in her portrayal.
    Swinton is a far superior actress and gave a far superior performance, so yeah, she was robbed.
    Close is a class act and, in fact, undervalued in Hollywood. Her portrayal of Nobbs is definitely Oscar nomination worthy, at the least. And what exactly constitutes an entertainment industry "ass-kisser"? Because if you really want to go there, Close wouldn't be the one to peg. It would actually be someone like Mara, who has without a doubt received the kinds of opportunities and recognition she has precisely because she has the connections, the money, and therefore, the power of influence.

  • Robert | January 24, 2012 5:00 PM

    Noomy is the true Lisabeth Salander. The american version was dissappointing in regards to the "The girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Sorry, no comparison.

  • Katie Walsh | January 24, 2012 3:45 PM

    Completely agree with that line-up, Mike. God the Academy is really showing its age this year!

  • Mike | January 24, 2012 3:04 PM

    You're mad at Mara when 3 out of 5 slots were given to pandering Oscar grabs in poorly made tripe? (Williams, Streep, Close). Give me a line up with Mara, Swinton, Olsen, Dunst and Theron.

  • Nik Grape | January 24, 2012 2:57 PM

    Rooney deserves it 100%

  • Salty Bill | January 24, 2012 2:54 PM

    I agree with Kel's assessment of Glenn Close's nomination. She's trying too hard and comes off as desperate. And nobody would mistake the character for a man anyway. It's McTeer who deserves the award...

  • jt | January 24, 2012 2:32 PM

    I concur. Also, Theron & Swinton deserved nominations over the very overrated Michelle Williams.

  • 1-10 | January 24, 2012 2:25 PM

    Agreed. I was rooting for Theron.

  • Kel | January 24, 2012 2:23 PM

    How about you blame Glenn Close for being nominated solely because of her ass-kissing and standing among the acting community rather than her (stiff, Oscar-baiting) performance in a crap movie. SHE is the one who does not deserve to be nominated. I don't understand why Rooney is getting so much shit for "stealing" Tilda's spot when she gave a fantastic performance.

  • john | January 24, 2012 1:16 PMReply

    Saying Gary Oldman got the precedence for the British vote over Michael Fassbender is like saying that Meryl Streep got the precedence for the British vote over Tilda Swinton. The point being that working with British directors does not make an actor British and so your point, is quite pointless.

  • jt | January 24, 2012 2:33 PM

    So happy for Gary Oldman! He should already be at his fifth Oscar nomination.

  • cirkusfolk | January 24, 2012 1:04 PMReply

    It's a shame about the song category. It has gotten more and more neglected year after year. First they stop performing each individual song during the awards ceremony. Then they do a medley of them. They they cut them down from 5 noms to 3 and now 2?! I doubt it if either song gets any sort of play during the broadcast this year. Original songs have always been a big part of cinema so I can't see them ever doing away with the catergory altogether but this is pathetic. Part of my problem has always been them nominating stupid ass songs from kids filsm and musicals in the first place. So the fact that Randy Newman or Elton John don't have a song this year means there aren't any worthy?? Bollucks. What about Think You Can Wait by The National from Win Win. Beautiful song. Or Gathering Stories by Jonsi from We Bought a Zoo. They snubbed him last year too by not noming his song Sticks and Stones from How To Train Your Dragon. But why am I even surprised. Did David Bowie get nomed for Cat People, or U2 for Hold Me, Kiss Me, or Radiohead for Exit Music, or Eddie Vedder or Bruce Springsteen. Of course not.

  • Booce | June 7, 2012 4:12 PM

    While you're definitely right that Radiohead should have at least been nominated, you're way off on one thing: Bruce Springsteen was nominated for Best Original Song and won for "Streets Of Philadelphia."

  • James | January 24, 2012 12:52 PMReply

    Am I the only one who can't understand all the love being shown to Margin Call? Just because it was full of clever sounding technical jargon and the occasional well phrased speech, that doesn't mean it has a good screenplay. Oscar nominated? Are you kidding? the characters were thin (Paul Bettany, looking at you I'm afraid), the dialogue generally pretty weak, and as a piece of drama it was structureless, inert, and completely flat. I thought the most remarkable thing about it was that the fate of the financial world hangs in the balance, and yet it felt like nothing was at stake. If you want verisimilitude, then make a documentary.

  • Salty Bill | January 24, 2012 2:58 PM

    I thought Margin Call was quietly compelling, with fine performances, especially by Spacey and Irons.

  • JoJo | January 24, 2012 1:18 PM

    I'm right there with you, James. I finally watched it On Demand recently after reading such great things about it, and I feel pretty much exactly the same way you do. It felt very surface-level.

  • Mike | January 24, 2012 1:08 PM

    Agreed, HBO's Too Big To Fail was far better and didn't shy away from depicting real people and companies like Margin Call did. 50/50 so should have had that slot.

  • cirkusfolk | January 24, 2012 12:52 PMReply

    I'll tell you a surprise. The fact that Stephen Daldry didn't get a director nom for Extremely Loud. Because to me the fact that the film landed a Best Pic nom was not a surprise to me in the slightest. Not because the movie is good (I haven't seen it) but because Daldry films always get nomed even when they have poor reviews such as the last suprise inclusion of his, The Reader. I even wrote this all before in a rant comment months ago on one of the articles on this site. Nice to know I was right, even though the results are so wrong.

  • Tamara | January 24, 2012 12:51 PMReply

    "Arguably" is right--"Man or Muppet" is hands-down the highlight of "The Muppets." I was so stoked to see it nominated...until I saw only 2 songs chosen. And then I basically felt like you: what's the point?

  • rotch | January 24, 2012 12:47 PMReply

    "We can only hope that this is the start of a gradual fading out in the category; one nomination in 2013, and none in 2014..."

    I certainly hope not. My favorite moment in the last 10 Oscar ceremony is Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová winning for Once.

    The category also gave us: Elliott Smith on an Oscar stage, (Deserving) Academy Award Winner Eminem, and Academy Award Nominees Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Please don't make me go as far as Shaft.

  • Anna | January 24, 2012 12:40 PMReply

    Michael Fassbender is from the Republic of Ireland, so he wouldn't have had the British vote...

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